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I recently got a tripod, and I need a head for it. I would like to try a variety of video, so looking for something that allows moving the camera smoothly.

There are a variety of types of tripod heads available. eg ballhead, pan and tilt, geared heads, or fluid heads. What are the differences between these, and which is most useful for video?

I will also be using the tripod for some still photography, so would be good if the tripod head is also suitable for that.

What other features are worth looking for in a tripod head?

  • What kind of tripod is it? What kind of video cameras are you thinking of using? Are you primarily using the system indoors or outdoors? Is it something you need to carry with you only for 15 minute from car to site, or for days as you trek into the wilderness? – Michael Tiemann Sep 18 '15 at 2:38
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There's really two main types of film heads; pan/tilt heads and ball heads. There are a lot of other features you can get in tripods, for example, fluid heads. A fluid head is definitely something you'll want for video if you can afford one. They provide much smoother panning and tilting motion while operating the tripod. Geared heads allow for much more precise adjustments, but aren't that popular due to their weight and cost.

A pan/tilt head is the most common. They allow for smooth and controlled camera motion, but are limited by constraints of the different pieces, making them harder to adjust perfectly.

Ball heads have a much wider range of motion than pan/tilt heads, but their design makes smooth and controlled camera motions much more difficult.

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